Walking with Witches Four Centuries On

Last sunny Saturday we headed out towards Clitheroe, seeking fresh air in the cold January sun. I was keen to show my son the location of his much loved Spook’s books, or Wardstone Chronicles, the fictional tales of a spook, his apprentice and witchcraft written by local author Joseph Delaney.


We set off from the pretty village of Pendleton, a place where once there were ancient folk tales of witchcraft and witches. Today it is better known for the real ales served in the Swan with Two Necks.


Six wet feet later we reach a deep dell, not wishing to trudge down and back up we head back and park on the edge of Pendle Hill, or as we used to call it as kids Witches Hill, on a precarious corner just above the village of Sabden.


The area has a notorious history, being home to twelve people accused of witchcraft in the 17th century. The witch trials took place in Lancaster and saw them accused of the murder of ten people. Ten people were found guilty, one died in jail and the other found not guilty.

Pendle is also famous for being the place where George Fox had a vision, in 1652, and subsequently formed the Religious Society of Friends or Quaker movement. As we neared the summit, after walking a stony (and at times boggy) path, the sun was beginning to dip casting a hazy glow across the hilltops creating a beautiful vista and backdrop to fellow walkers’ selfies!


Indeed it wasn’t a quiet walk, with families, couples and friends marching up to take in the New Year air. Below us children careered down the hillside, learning to ski on Pendle’s slopes and cars revved to get over the twisty road that snaked up the hillside and down into a nearby village, a ‘nightmare’ to navigate in an old jalopy said my truck driving husband.

We headed back before the sun dipped further behind the horizon, taking in the beauty afforded by this isolated hill and departed feeling refreshed and inspired.



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